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Foundation Matters

Charleston’s Historic Neighborhoods on National “11 Most Endangered” List

Posted: May 9, 2023

The difference in scale of the proposed Union Pier development is apparent in this 3-D created by the Preservation Society as part of a massing study, looking over Ansonborough from near Meeting Street. Images courtesy of the Preservation Society of Charleston, as part of a massing study.

Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that the threat posed by incompatible development at Union Pier justifies placing Charleston in the national spotlight on its 2023 America’s 11 Most Endangered Places list. This list, released annually since 1988, focuses on urgent threats where community leaders have identified solutions that can result in better outcomes.

In support of the National Trust’s decision, our organizations stand united: There is a better way. As we wrote this week, the current developer-led plan proposes building sizes and density that are not remotely compatible with Charleston’s historic built environment. The plan also lacks adequate open space and resilience measures which should be the core focus of any large-scale master plan on the water’s edge. Core elements of the plan, such as affordable housing and the proposed public financing structure are not yet known. Having worked together to halt disruptive and environmentally damaging cruise homeport operations, the Coastal Conservation League, Preservation Society of Charleston, and Historic Charleston Foundation continue to collaborate to protect the historic district of Charleston.

Overview of proposed heights contrasted with existing heights in the historic Ansonborough neighborhood

What’s next? 

Over the next two weeks, our coalition will host three separate events to follow up on our call for a better process and plan for Charleston’s historic waterfront. We invite the entire community concerned about the Union Pier proposal to participate and learn more.

Thursday, May 11 @ 5:30-7:30 pm
Community Workshop on a Better Way Forward for Union Pier
Hosted by Preservation Society of Charleston at St. Julian Devine Community Center, 1 Cooper St.
RSVP requested

Tuesday, May 16 @ 6 pm
Environmental Impacts of Union Pier Redevelopment: What We Need to Know.
Hosted by the Coastal Conservation League via Zoom
Attend virtually by registering here

Thursday, May 18 @ 6 pm
Union Pier Advocacy Forum, with reception to follow
Hosted by Historic Charleston Foundation at Charleston Museum Auditorium, 360 Meeting Street
Register here*

*RSVP requested, space is limited

We have worked – and will continue to work – in good faith to press for a community-led vision for the site. And we are grateful to the civic and elected leaders who are asking important questions about this process and the developer-designed plan. We are grateful for your ongoing support of our work and look forward to engaging with you as we envision the way forward on this “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity at Charleston’s crown jewel waterfront. For recent press, resources and up to date information on the Union Pier redevelopment project, visit

Street level view from Pinckney Street, demonstrating excessive heights blocking water views. GIS renderings from the Preservation Society helped the National Trust see the impact of this development and make this consequential decision. GIS-enabled massing models help us evaluate the impact of new development on historic neighborhoods and envision better alternatives. As the developer has proposed, this model is elevated 11 feet above current grade and uses the building forms and roof types from their marketing materials

To read more from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the 2023 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places List, visit the website HERE.

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